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A Change In The Wind

Chapter Text

The Dauntless made it back to Port Royal in nearly record time.  It seemed as though the weather wanted to cooperate after such a sound victory.  The crew unloaded the essentials and took Jack Sparrow to the prison to await his trial and, very likely, hanging.  James Norrington stood on the pier as he watched the rest of the crew go about their business, unloading and replenishing supplies where needed.  He had spoken with the Admiral on board the ship and, with Governor Swann's prodding for clemency, he had been given a suspension of duties for one month following their return to Port Royal and put on probation with a mark on his military record.  If he violated his probation, he would lose his rank and be made Lieutenant again.  He was aware of how lenient that punishment was so he knew better than to argue or speak against it and he would be following every order given to him.  

William Turner had also been given clemency for his involvement in the matter and would be returning to his work as the blacksmith's apprentice.  Governor Swann had insisted that the young man be allowed to return to his work given the brave actions he took to rescue his only child.  Turner graciously accepted the praise and thanked the governor profusely for his mercy.  The expectation would be that everything in Port Royal would return to the way it had been before the pirate attack and subsequent kidnapping of Miss Swann.

James made his way towards the bustling streets of the town and could see Elizabeth standing at the side of the street as a carriage pulled up to take her and her father home.  He made to walk towards her but there was no getting through the crowd of sailors before she was seated inside and on her way back to the Governor’s manor.  He sighed to himself before making his way to Fort Charles and the barracks, having nowhere else to go. 

 

During the trip back to Port Royal, Elizabeth had implored her father to grant pardons to the men who had assisted in rescuing her.  He had given them gladly to Mr. Turner and Captain Norrington, but it was beyond his power to do the same for Captain Sparrow.  He had no control over a prisoner who had committed many crimes against the Crown or at least was not willing to usurp the jurisdiction of the Royal Navy for a pirate.  The fate of Jack Sparrow was fully in the purview of Admiral Middleton, as was Captain Norrington’s demotion to Lieutenant should he step out of line again.  It frustrated her to no end that neither her father nor the Admiral would yield to her wishes for the pirate.  She fully understood that under the law, he was a criminal, but surely his participation in her rescue should mean something.

Once Elizabeth had returned to Port Royal, she began secretly corresponding with William Turner.  She could not sit idly by while one of her saviours was to be hanged.  It was what had led her to write to Mr. Turner.  It had not escaped her notice that Mr. Turner had been more than willing to assist Captain Norrington with his plan to rescue her.  It had been her hope that he would be willing to participate in one more rescue.  Having spent much of her time around the fort in her youth, Elizabeth was much acquainted with the layout and operation of the Royal Navy in Port Royal.  She just needed someone to help plan and execute the rescue mission.

She was aware that she could not ask Captain Norrington.  Both his situation and his duty wouldn’t allow him to go against Admiral Middleton’s command.  When her life was on the line, that was one thing, but he would not choose to risk himself for a known criminal.  She could respect that.  William Turner was her only option.

Over the two weeks following their return to Port Royal, while Fort Charles prepared for the hanging execution of the Jack Sparrow, Elizabeth exchanged many letters with Will Turner as they planned a daring escape for their pirate companion.  She would on occasion visit the blacksmith shop when she could find an excuse to do so.  This, of course, caused some of the ladies in her social circle to start gossiping among themselves that the blacksmith’s apprentice had caught the eye of the young lady.  To them, it made perfect sense that the governor’s daughter would be smitten with one of the men who had rescued her from her harrowing adventure with pirates.

Elizabeth did nothing to dissuade the idle gossip as it helped cover her true intentions. It pained Elizabeth to be so secretive and elusive, but she didn’t want anyone to ruin their plans.  It would be without question that the gossip would get back to Captain Norrington, but until the rescue plan had been executed, there was nothing to be done about it.  As long as the twittering was kept to a minimum, it was manageable. She also made sure to have her lady’s maid with her and had sworn her to secrecy. It was the only way to make sure the gossip did not venture into areas too untoward for a young, single lady of good standing.

In truth, she had fallen for one of her rescuers, or, more accurately, had fallen even more in love than she had already been.  Before her little escapade, her feelings for Captain Norrington could have better been described as a school-girl crush.  Her heart would flutter when she saw him, but her feelings did not seem to lend themselves to anything too serious.  If she took time to reflect on when things had started to change for her, she could imagine it was when she realized there was a possibility she would never see him again.  It was only when she had seen him pushing through a small crowd of pirates to get to her that she had truly felt the gravity of her feelings for him.  Knowing what he had sacrificed to rescue her with a ship full of pirates, how could she help it.  When his arms wrapped securely around her, she could have cried for all the overwhelming feelings that erupted within her.

That hug, the one she had noticed was probably just a little too long to be proper, had set her heart aflame and allowed her to hope that her feelings were at least somewhat reciprocated. However, once they had returned to Port Royal, Captain Norrington had remained scarce, despite her father’s numerous invitations to dinner.  Elizabeth was addled by his disappearance in her life and mulled over the reasons in her head.  Everything from the idea that he had wanted to give her time to settle after such a harrowing ordeal to the idea that he had become enraged with jealousy once the gossip of her supposed preference for the blacksmith’s apprentice had jumped around in her mind.  If she was truthful with herself, she didn’t know why he stayed away but thought perhaps, whatever his reasons, it was best while she was plotting to break a pirate out of prison.

 

The day of the execution finally arrived.  The people of Port Royal had gathered in the main square of Fort Charles surrounding the newly erected gallows as they awaited the morbid entertainment of the day. Elizabeth stood dutifully by her father’s side, between him and Captain Norrington, whom Admiral Middleton had essentially turned into his errand boy during his probationary period as punishment.  He kept as much distance between himself and Elizabeth as he could without seeming too awkward in the circumstances.  Admiral Middleton stood front and centre of their little group, almost gleeful of the occasion.  It was clear the man was looking forward to a hanging.

The military drums started up as Jack Sparrow was led to the gallows, hands tied in front of him.  He was positioned by two guards above the trapdoor, the executioner waiting patiently off to the side, before one of the men unrolled a scroll, reading out Jack Sparrow’s long list of crimes and the eventual resulting punishment.  Elizabeth kept a keen eye on the crowd, searching for a sign of William Turner.  She turned slightly to her father, attempting to make one last plea to her father for leniency.

“This is wrong,” she said matter-of-factly.

“Admiral Middleton is bound by the law, as are we all.”

Elizabeth turned her eyes back to the crowd until she spotted it; the sign that everything was about to work out much better than their original plan.  Perched on the garrison wall was a brightly coloured parrot that was very familiar.  It gave a loud squawk, seemingly waiting for something to happen.  Elizabeth scanned the crowd again and met the eyes of the blacksmith, William Turner just as the words “may God have mercy on your soul” left the mouth of the announcer.  The drums sounded louder as the execution loomed.  The hangman placed the noose around Jack Sparrow’s neck as Elizabeth gave a slight, imperceptible nod to William Turner.  As he moved quickly through the crowd, starting to cause a stir, Elizabeth stumbled to her left, grabbed onto Captain Norrington’s coat arm and let out a great sigh as she fell back onto the cobbled stone in what appeared to be a dead faint, garnering the attention of the crowd around her, and more importantly, her father, Captain Norrington and Admiral Middleton.  Norrington moved quickly, catching her as she fell to the ground, sliding down with her and protecting her head from the stone floor.  Her father and Admiral Middleton stared down at her in shock, concern gracing both of their faces.

Their attention was focused on Elizabeth as Turner made his way to the gallows to assist Jack Sparrow.  She couldn’t see what was happening in her prone position but she could hear the commotion and attempted to keep the senior officers' attention on her to give Turner and Sparrow as much of a chance of escape as possible. A sudden shout from the military men and the crowd drew their attention away.  Elizabeth clutched at Norrington's hand to pull his attention back to her.  As he looked down at her, the realization of what she had done crossed his face.  

She gave him a silent, pleading look as his face darkened with disapproval.  Their gaze was only broken by shouts coming from the far side of the fort.  Norrington helped Elizabeth up off the ground and they quickly moved through the crowd until they came to a large grouping of marines, swords and muskets drawn, who seemed to have cornered Jack Sparrow and William Turner at the edge of the parapets.  Jack Sparrow was slowly backing up towards the edge with a bit of gleam of mischief in his eye.

“This is the day you will always remember as the day…” his speech stopped short as he tumbled over the edge, falling into the sea below.  Everyone paused for a moment in shock, seemingly unable to comprehend what had just happened.  Turner took the momentary reprieve to run over to the edge and dive after Sparrow.  The military men surged forward, Middleton in the lead.  A few of the men spotted the two figures below, swimming out to sea, and pointed them out.  Middleton glanced down at the pair of them before rounding on the militia.  

“Men, get down there at once.  I want them both captured alive!  They will both hang this time!” Middleton spared a disapproving look at Governor Swann, clearly blaming him for the events of the day.  Had he not given Turner clemency, the man would not have been able to assist the pirate in escaping.  Governor Swann held his head high as he returned Admiral Middleton’s look, daring him to speak against him, but the Admiral seemed to think better of it.  He disappeared into the crowd of marines to lead them on their quest for the escaped prisoner and Governor Swann disappeared into the crowd of civilians to reassure them the excitement was now over.

The red coats dispersed back to their posts or down to the docks as ordered by the Admiral, leaving Elizabeth and Norrington alone on the ramparts.  Elizabeth glanced up and spotted black sails moving into the cove quickly as both men swam towards the ship.  She tugged gently on Norrington’s sleeve and nodded her head towards the Black Pearl.  It wasn’t long before the crew were hoisting the men up onto the deck.

“They’ll never catch them in time,” Elizabeth commented.

“The Dauntless could easily…” he trailed off as he looked at the smile on Elizabeth’s face.  Something told him that she knew far more than she was letting on.  “I take it that The Dauntless is not ready to make sail.”

“I’m afraid not, Captain.  I imagine it will take them at least a good full day to make the repairs.”  Her smile dropped as she turned to face him.  “I know that you don’t agree, but it was the right thing to do.  Sometimes the right course demands an act of piracy.”

Norrington made the conscious decision not to pursue the moment further as their gaze locked for a brief moment.  A small smile appeared on his lips as he looked down between them.  He reached his left hand forward and took her hand in his.  “Elizabeth…” he started.  He seemed to be at a loss for words.

“James,” she replied back as he lifted his head again and their eyes connected.  

He is silent for a moment as he tries to collect his thoughts.  “I find myself unable to find the words to…” he trailed off again.

“Then perhaps words are not needed.”  She took an encouraging step toward him, closing some of the distance between them.

Norrington took his cue from Elizabeth.  He delicately placed his hand to her cheek before sliding it to the back of her neck.  He pulled her closer, his other hand on her waist and leaned his head down, capturing her lips with his as he closed his eyes.  He felt her hand graze his neck, matching his actions as she returned the kiss as fervently as decorum would allow in the circumstances, though perhaps a little more than proper.  It was years of pent-up feelings and desire all coming out at once, and it could only be held back so far.

He broke away suddenly, breathless and looking deeply into her eyes, finally managing to find the words he wanted to say to her.  “Marry me.”

A smile broke suddenly on her lips, brighter than he had ever seen.  She pressed her forehead to his, closing her eyes and whispering intimately to him.  “Yes.”